THE current disclosure that the mega-rich pay very little in taxes must be cruelly contrary to Gordon Brown's redistributive instincts. He cannot impose conventional taxes - those you and I pay - as the opulent would flee our shores.
Until Mohamed al-Fayed forfeited his personal tax treaty in the High Court in Edinburgh, who would have appreciated that this stupendously rich Egyptian was domiciled in Easter Ross in his sumptuous castle? He may enjoy the midges of the Scottish Highlands but the tax dimension must have been a compelling factor.
Most of the outraged comment has assumed the Inland Revenue should jump upon the wealthy expatriates among us. I have a better idea. Let us bring the tax obligations upon all of us into line with those imposed on billionaires.
This illuminates a great paradox. We think the big tax havens are the obscure Caribbean islands plus Hong Kong and Singapore. We forget that, given enough cash, Edinburgh outranks all these locations as a place where capital is safe from the taxman.
The Adam Smith Institute computes that the average reader of The Scotsman works for the state until early June each year. It is not just income tax and national insurance that add up but all